Demonstrations by Students
Students and student groups planning demonstrations need to consider policies and opportunities to make their events effective and safe, whether hosting a guest speaker, planning a march or organizing a protest. Amplified sound, distribution of literature, filming on campus, and security are just some of the details that students may need to prepare for when holding a demonstration. As a neutral party, Student Activities can help in coordinating logistics and ensuring compliance with university policies and the Institutional Rules. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-471-3065 for consultation and to reserve space as needed for the demonstration.
Expression at UT
Freedom of speech, expression and assembly are fundamental rights of all persons and are central to the mission of the university. In accordance with the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities Chapter 13, students, faculty, staff and the public have the right to assemble, speak and attempt to attract the attention of others. They also have the right to hear the speech of others when they choose to listen and to ignore the speech of others when they choose not to listen. Expressive activities are subject to time, place, and manner regulations.
Campus Demonstration Guidelines
- Assembling peacefully
- Participating in meaningful discussions
- Handing out flyers and brochures
- Allowing a ten-foot perimeter of clearance around academic buildings
- Respecting other demonstrators' ability to engage in speech and displaying messages without blocking the view of participants or causing the speaker to not be heard
- Following university policies and procedures
- Blocking entrances and exits
- Creating disruptions in buildings or at university events
- Vandalizing campus
- Engaging in physical violence or inciting others to take violent action
- Using amplified sound (sound with volume increased by any electronic, mechanical, or moto-powered means) without reservation or outside of the designated amplified sound areas
- Attempting to force other to view or listen to a message by coercion, badgering or intimidation
Masks are optional inside university buildings and outdoors. For individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have weakened immune systems, optional masking is recommended when inside university buildings, except when alone in a private office or cublicle. See the university's health behavior guidance for the most current information. Community members should maintain good hand hygiene by handwashing and having hand sanitizer readily available. Use the Protect Texas Together app for daily symptom screening. If you feel sick, please stay at home.
Alternate Demonstration Formats
Some alternate forms of peaceful expression that UT community members have engaged in include but are not limited to the following:
- Use platforms like Zoom or Google Meet for educational events, meetings, vigils or to host a speaker with an alternative point of view
- Use an online petition platform such as change.org
- Use social media to host campaigns and involve supporters
- Lettering writing campaign to a speaker, public representative, or a UT department or administrator
- Writing an op-ed in campus or local publications such as the Daily Texan
- Declarations of action and/or support by organizations
- Donations or fundraising
- Post signage at your home or dorm
- Wearing of symbols
- Contact the Graduate Student Assembly, Senate of College Councils and Student Government
- Contact your state and federal representatives and senators
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. A part of free speech and expression is the right to engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest. The university expects all who engage in protest to do so peacefully and safely.
No. Freedom of speech does not give you permission to silence the speech of others by shouting, heckling or otherwise disrupting a speech to the point that the speaker cannot continue or that the audience can no longer listen. The free speech rights of the speaker would be violated. Intentionally disrupting a speaker may result in disciplinary sanctions or even criminal charges against the disruptive person.
No, the university cannot cancel an event based on the viewpoint of the speaker.
Any speech, expression or assembly conducted in a way that disrupts or interferes with university functions, authorized activities, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and other expressive activities outlined in the Institutional Rules, Chapter 13.
There are several methods. Some include
- Holding cards which indicate disagreement (or agreement) with the speaker's points and views.
- Staging a coordinated, quiet walk-out of a program or event.
- Turning one's back on the speaker.
- Holding signs which are not affixed to sticks or poles, and do not obstruct the view of others (stand/sit in the back of room or space).
No. Camping is not allowed on campus for the reasons of maintaining a clean, aesthetically pleasing, healthy and safe work, educational and learning environment.
Freedom of speech means that all views have a place for expression—even those that others may find offensive, hurtful or wrong. University community members who hear words they don't like are free to offer their own words in response, but they must always respect the rights of all speakers to share their views.
Call 911 in any emergency situation.
Contact Student Activities in advance to discuss planning and policies. Additionally, it's important to help prepare potential attendees for the event as well by sharing information in advance such as:
- Eating a nutritious meal and drinking lots of water prior to the event / demonstration
- Making signs with BIG, bold, legible letters and phrases that are not affixed to sticks and poles
- Any chants for participants to learn in advance
- Sharing agenda of speakers and, if applicable, if / where any marching will occur
- Encouraging individuals not to attend if they are sick or high risk
- Safety guidance
If you have any other questions, email Student Activities at email@example.com.